Tuesday, November 11, 2008


A film by Ravi Chopra
Starring Amitabh Bachchan, Hema Malini, Salman Khan, Mahima Chaudhary
(and others not listed on the DVD case)

(Today's blog post is a movie review.)

I checked this Bollywood flick out of the Library this weekend. It was over 3 hours long, so I figured it would contain a dance number or two. It's the tale of a devoted father, Raj Malhotra (Amitabh Bachchan), who is on the verge of retirement. He is rich in happiness and reputation, but his financial savings have gone to build a good life for his family and friends. When retirement comes, he and his wife Pooja expect his four sons to provide for him--a reasonable expectation in traditional Indian society. The sons and their spouses have a slightly different idea. that conflict and its resolution make up the rest of the film. (Well, that and the musical numbers.) (They're very nice musical numbers if you're into Bollywood.) It was an enjoyable film, though it kind of reminded me as an emotional comic book film. In a comic book film, the action is larger than life with way cool special effects and feats that would be beyond belief if you hadn't leave your logic at the door. In Baghban, the drama is also beyond belief. The characters of Raj and Pooja are all but demigods of kindness and generosity. Everybody loves them, everybody treats them with respect and similar generosity... except those few characters slated to be the bad guys. Those benighted souls are awash in selfishness and pettiness. Once Raj has made his request to live with his kids, the love of his sons and daughters-in-law vanish. They seem suddenly incapable of showing the smallest bit of respect or affection, even as total strangers continue to bend over backwards for the couple. I wonder if it's some sort of cultural thing, some nuance that is invisible to an American like myself but is totally obvious to an Indian viewer. Or maybe it's just like an American comic book film--you watch it to engage your emotions, not your intellect. As an emotional ride, Baghban is very fulfilling, with moments of joy, sorrow, humor and anger. And you can dance to it.

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